It looked good, then bad, then good again for No. 22 Kentucky in Saturday’s Vrbo Citrus Bowl matchup with No. 15 Iowa.
When the Wildcats (10-4) jumped out to an early 13-3 lead in the game’s first two quarters, it looked like it could be an easy afternoon. But Kentucky’s offense stalled out in the second half, allowing Iowa (10-4) to mount a comeback and take a late 17-13 lead.
Wan’Dale strikes again:Record-breaking performance from Wan’Dale Robinson leads UK to Citrus Bowl win
Two plays essentially evaporated that lead, the latter —a short Chris Rodriguez scored on a 6-yard touchdown run set up by a 52-yard strike from Will Levis to Wan’Dale Robinson — gave Mark Stoops’ bunch a 20-17 lead with 1:48 left in the fourth quarter.
Senior linebacker DeAndre Square sealed the win with an interception with 48 seconds remaining.
It was a particularly sweet victory, given Mark Stoops’ deep Iowa ties. He played there, along with brothers Bobby and Mike who preceded him. And that part wasn’t lost on Kentucky fans at all.
Interestingly, it was also a sweet victory for those who aren’t necessarily Kentucky fans, but are SEC enthusiasts. In case you hadn’t been paying attention this bowl season, the SEC hasn’t faired too well. Before Alabama and Georgia’s triumphs in their respective College Football Playoff semifinal games, the conference was a paltry 1-5 in bowl games.
It almost ended another way, though, and probably would’ve resulted in a UK loss if not for Robinson and Rodriguez’s heroics. For Rodriguez, a senior, it was his last game in Kentucky blue. But Robinson’s future is still unclear. However, after Robinson’s record-setting performance — 10 catches for 170 yards — you shouldn’t have to guess Big Blue Nation’s advice to Kentucky’s star receiver.
Whether Robinson stays or bolts for the NFL, the win on the first day of the new calendar year feels like early momentum for the 2022 season that’s now about nine months away.
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